A single injection might control fertility in pets and other animals, a new study suggests.
California Institute of Technology researchers working with mice said they’ve taken a first step in developing an inexpensive alternative to spaying or neutering dogs and cats.
One injection was enough to halt egg and sperm production in mice, the scientists said. After receiving the shot, male and female mice were unable to reproduce for about two months, and suffered no side effects.
The shot delivers packaged DNA into muscle cells. This causes the animals’ bodies to produce antibodies that neutralize male and female reproductive hormones, according to the study published Oct. 5 in the journal Current Biology.
“Spaying and neutering wild animals is not a trivial process — it takes money and time to anesthetize them, do the surgery, and let them recover. This is a much more benign way of managing populations,” study senior author and biology professor Bruce Hay said in a journal news release.
He and his colleagues are now testing the injection in female cats.
Although results of animal studies aren’t necessarily replicated in humans, Hay’s team said this line of research could even lead to a similar injection for people.
“It’s a long road to develop any new drug, but it might someday provide an alternative to current surgical methods of permanent contraception,” Hay said.
The American Humane Association has more about spaying and neutering.